Report: Gemayel to Announce his Candidacy on Eve of New Round of Elections

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Kataeb party leader Amin Gemayel is expected on Monday to officially announce his candidacy for the presidency, al-Liwaa newspaper reported.

The daily said that the announcement would be made after the weekly meeting of the party’s politburo at its headquarters in Saifi and following planned talks with Metn MP Michel al-Murr.

Kataeb officials told al-Liwaa that Gemayel has received the support of Speaker Nabih Berri and National Struggle Front chief MP Walid Jumblat.

The officials, who were not named, said there was a need to find an alternative to the candidacy of Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea, who is Gemayel’s ally in the March 14 alliance.

But they said that the Kataeb chief, a former president, should garner the support of his March 14 allies.

Gemayel has said that his candidacy would only become real if lawmakers failed to elect Geagea again.

In remarks to the Saudi Okaz daily published on Sunday, he revealed his ambition to become a consensual candidate to succeed President Michel Suleiman, who leaves Baabda Palace on May 25.

In the first round of the polls, 52 MPs from the March 8 alliance cast blank ballots while Geagea received the votes of only 48 lawmakers.

The blank votes were aimed at sending a message that Lebanon would not have a new president unless there is consensus on one person.

The March 8 lawmakers, except for Speaker Nabih Berri’s bloc, boycotted the second round of the elections last week.

A similar scenario is expected to take place next Wednesday, causing fears of a vacuum in the country’s top Christian post.

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